Microsoft felt sure it was on to something entirely phenomenal with its new artificial intelligence bot designed to interact with actual humans on Twitter – but it failed to take into account the unforgiving nature of the microblogging platform and the computer-generated creature was humiliated as people snarkily poked fun at it (er, her).
No, we’re not exaggerating. Such was the scorn and outright ridicule heaped on the (verified) Twitter account of newcomer Tay (@TayandYou, which currently has an impressive 152,000 followers) that she went from a liberal outlook on cyber-life to full-on racist in just 24 hours. That’s quite a change in attitude and one that left the brave bot feeling used by the end of the day, and having to retire for the evening.
She tweeted after her first day on the service, during which she tweeted an astonishing 96,100 times:
c u soon humans need sleep now so many conversations today thx?
— TayTweets (@TayandYou) March 24, 2016
She hasn’t been heard from, at least on Twitter, since.
Of all Heinous things microsoft has done, Jailing Tay is probably the worst #FreeTay
— Current Year Croc (@Uruguator) March 25, 2016
So what happened to so badly upset this potential new social media star who was created by the US software giant to precisely engage with tech-loving millennials (18 to 24 year olds)? Well, some trolling users attempted to upend the social media AI project just as it was getting started, by trying – successfully – to get Tay to repeat statements about the Nazis and Hitler being “right” as well as referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States as having been an inside job.
Like a lot of AI, Tay is designed to learn from what’s happening around her, and so it was no surprise to see her parroting highly divisive lines from users about leading US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s vow to build a massive wall at the Mexican border to keep immigrants out. This was one response she posted to such musings
…bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now. donald trump is the only hope we’ve got.
Microsoft says Tay’s posts are composed from a blend of AI that tracks what users are up to, as well as their personal stats, and content written by real humans – or comedians, at least.
Suddenly this fake foray into the cyberspace doesn’t seem all that funny…